Growing up, Marla A. Misunas was surrounded by artistic expression. Her father was an artist who worked with mixed media, photography, jewelry, and furniture, and they frequented several art museums in her youth. Deciding thereon to involve herself in the artistic realm, Ms. Misunas attended The University of Chicago for her undergraduate studies, earning a Bachelor of Arts in art history. However, after receiving her degree, Ms. Misunas noted to herself that she was more inclined to work with art directly in museums and galleries instead of theoretically as a historian. She went on to enroll in John F. Kennedy University and secured a Master of Arts in museum studies.
At the inception of her career in 1988, Ms. Misunas served at John F. Kennedy University as an administrative director of the graduate liberal arts program for three years. Remaining in this capacity until 1991, she then worked as an associate registrar at the Asian Art Museum between 1991 and 1992. Since departing from this position, she has excelled as the collections information manager at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) in California, where she maintains responsibility for managing the comprehensive online database of art showcased in the museum. As a museum executive, Ms. Misunas is also interested in diversifying the museum’s collections with artwork from individuals and groups not properly represented, such as people of varying ethnicities and genders. Living and working by the motto, “Knowledge is power,” Ms. Misunas has worked to promote women artists and expose art to more individuals through the online database since accepting her role at SFMOMA.
Concurrently, Ms. Misunas spent 10 years as an adjunct professor and curriculum author in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University between 2009 and 2019, through which she displayed and shared her expertise in art with students. Likewise, she was a longstanding member of the Museum Computer Network (MCN) between 2001 and 2007, having spent time as board secretary, board member, vice president, president-elect, and president. She also served on the conference committee for “Access to Assets: Return on Investment” at the MCN Annual Meeting in Pasadena, California, in 2006. Moreover, Ms. Misunas has been interviewed extensively about her artistic prowess, most recently by the Oral Histories of Museum Computing in 2021. Furthermore, she has authored and co-authored numerous works, including “Collection Management in Museums” in 2012 in the third edition of the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences.
Among her many career achievements, Ms. Misunas is particularly proud of chartering a chapter of the MCN in Taiwan in 2004 during her tenure as MCN president. Looking toward the future, she aims to continue promoting women artists at SFMOMA and other venues as well as help more individuals see and appreciate art outside of the museum environment.